House debates

Thursday, 29 October 2020

Questions without Notice


2:27 pm

Photo of Gladys LiuGladys Liu (Chisholm, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Health: Will the minister outline to the House how Australia's unique response to the COVID-19 pandemic is helping to protect Australian lives and livelihoods? Is the minister aware of any alternative approaches?

Photo of Greg HuntGreg Hunt (Flinders, Liberal Party, Minister for Health) Share this | | Hansard source

I particularly want to thank the member for Chisholm, who's been a great supporter of mental health in Victoria through the course of the pandemic. She's been able to do that by looking across the world and seeing the tragedy that we have faced outside of our borders.

As we speak today, 44.4 million people have been diagnosed with COVID, 1.17 million people have officially lost their lives and no doubt the figures are greater. By the time we conclude at this dispatch box in two weeks when the parliament meets again, it's likely that those numbers will be over 50 million cases and 1¼ million lives lost. The disease is progressing at a faster rate than ever before, with eight consecutive days of over 400,000 cases and, in the last 24 hours, over 500,000 cases. That means that the challenge the world is facing is growing.

Against that background, Australia has had seven cases within the community in the last 24 hours—500,000 as opposed to seven. What that means is that Australia's unique approach has been deeply, fundamentally important in protecting lives and saving lives here. As the Medical Journal of Australia indicated, Australia's approach—our approach—has helped save over 16,000 lives compared with the United Kingdom. But, more than that, what we did was over a long period of time. In 2014 we worked with the COAG Health Council to establish a communicable diseases framework for Australia. That played itself out in over 50 exercises since 2017 for emergency response preparation involving the National Incident Room and also led the World Health Organization to identify Australia in 2017 as one of the most prepared nations in the world. All of that saw the Australian approach of working together through the AHPPC and the containment and capacity measures lead to the outcomes that we've had in Australia.

I know there are alternative approaches. There are some who want a CDC, or a centre for disease control. That is the American model and the European model. It's the model that has seen—

Ms Catherine King interjecting

No, it's not actually. I can take you through the errors in that statement. But more significantly—

Ms Catherine King interjecting

I will table that afterwards and show you. Most significantly, if we look at the last 24 hours, in Italy there have been 24,000 cases, in the UK there have been 24,000 cases, in France there have been 36,000 cases and in the United States there have been 81,000 cases. All of those have a CDC— (Time expired)

Mr Bowen interjecting

Dr Chalmers interjecting

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for McMahon is now warned. I remind the member for Rankin he has been warned.